My hometown of Benton, Mississippi is located in a bend of the Big Black River some twenty three miles due north of Yazoo City and some twenty miles south of Jackson. Our township was once the county seat of Yazoo County till they moved it Yazoo City in eighteen forty nine. A act we've still not forgotten and will never forget.
Benton was and still is a thriving township of some forty three hundred souls. All nestled on the tall bluffs that overlook the river. The wreck that killed the engineer Casey Jones, took place just north of here. A historical marker marks the location of the wreck.
Now, that you know a little about the town, maybe I should tell you a little about me. My name is Ginger Jennifer Evens. And I grew up in Benton and attended Benton Academy, a private school founded in nineteen sixty nine as a segregation academy. It has since shed those chains and gone on to be one of the premier private schools in the red clay region.
I mention this because of a certain picture that has been floating around the internet for a while. The picture features a cheerleader, dressed in white and red teeshirt, a fire engine red sport skirt, barefooted and covered from head to toe in mustered, pickles, tomato sauce and other such outdoor foods. In the background one can see the steeple of a church that would be "All Saints Catholic Church" the local Roman Catholic Church, and one of the few remaining parish's that still hold a Latin Mass once a month. Normally the last Sunday of the month.
Surrounding the lone church steeple one will notice a brick bell tower. The bell tower belongs to "Benton Volunteer Fire Department." The building is a source of pride for us locals. The two stand out like sore thumps in a sea of black roofing titles. Those belonged to clustered of small mom and pop owned business that formed downtown Benton. Not as grand as it might sound, because it was nothing but a mile and a half long corridor of highway that that was lined with the handful of businesses that formed the backbone of our small hamlet.
Now that I have told you about the town and told you about the picture, allow me to tell you about the events the lead up to that picture. Like I said before, I attended Benton Academy, and did so till I graduated with honors in spring of two thousand and two. When I was in the tenth grade, that to say I was a sophomore.. I was volunteered to take part in a messy charity event. That event took place one day during spring.
The day was one of those perfect spring days people often dream about and pray for. The grass had turned from a sickly yellow to a lush green. The trees where starting the bloom. The sky was clear and blue without a cloud to be seen the sun was shining bright and a gentle blew and kept things cool and crisp.
Old Ford pickup trucks filled the gravel parking lot beside the common. Women dressed in light pastel sundress and sandals sporting big, broad straw hats mingled with each other. In each hand there could be seen a bright red Dixie cup. A popular brand of plastic cup. Those cups no doubt held mixed drinks.
The men where either gathering around the grills or around the coolers. Some where dressed in jeans and collar polo shirts, others wore solid button down shirts and plaid shorts. Instead of plastic cups, they could be seen holding cans or bottle of beer or there fingers where wrapped around brown paper bags they passed around. The bags held small bottles of Whiskey.
The children where all dressed the same, the boys had there sandy brown in crew cuts. All dressed in short sleeve shirts sporting popular superhero's and short gray pants. The girls wore there hair long and pulled back in either pigtails or ponytails. They all wore dresses like there mothers.
And I, I was dressed in a simple white, short sleeve shirt emblazon with the letters 'B.A.' the 'B' stood for Benton of course and the 'A' stood for Academy, a red tennis skirt and barefooted. Why barefooted you might ask? Because I was standing on a small square piece of plastic. To my left there was a table that had been covered with a large black tarp.
My teammates, all local Benton girls born and raised surrounded me, each other smiling and laughing as the passed around a large mop bucket. The mop bucket was filled with small bills and silver coins. A nerves smile could be seen upon my face as I looked around them.
Now, I have a habit of playing pranks, nothing malice mind you. Harmless pranks like powdering down somebody shorts with itching powder. Filling somebody blouse with shaving cream, putting a unlucky girls bra or panties or both in a freezer.. You know harmless pranks like that.
So, since the target of my pranks, always seemed to be my teammates and fellow cheerleaders, the cheerleading coach at the time.. Only a few years older than we where. She was a tall women, with straight black hair and blue eyes and voice that carried over the noise and confusion that was and still is practice. She was only ten years older than us, and the ink on her B.A in Education Science from LSU was still wet. Yes, it had been her idea I should selected for this messy task.
"Attention everybody!" The commanding of voice of Mrs. Melton carried over the noise and confusion and begging. "Where about to let Ginger have it, as you know.. Benton Feed & Seed, Coleman's Steak House and last but not least, Benton Farm supplies cooperation.. Have both agreed to donate two hundred dollars each to the B.A Varsity Cheerleading Team to buy uniforms, supplies and petrol."
All of the gathered people cheered, smiled, hooted and generally made noises of approval. The tarp felt hot under my feet. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes and waited.. Then it happen I felt something heavy and smelly being poured down upon my hair. A thick coating of tomato sauce poured over my head and coated my shoulders. The stench of the sauce filled my nose.
Slowly a little smile formed upon my face as I felt the thick sauce rolling down my back and down my front. Then heard the sound of something being opened. The crowd became silent as the grace as they all peered toward me. I took another deep breath as I felt a sudden down pour of something down upon my head. Dozens of small, green, slices of pickles pooled around my bare feet.
"Man!" Somebody shouted. "That is nasty!"
"I know, I totally feel for her! We love you Ginger!" Shouted another women.
"Its going to take ages for her to get all that stuff out of her hair." Another women.
I could only grin and flick some of the stuff that was running down my arms. I took another deep breath as I felt something heavy being poured over me, it was thick and creamy and smelled funny. A massive landslide of mayo, The thick, creamy dressing rolled down my shoulders and down the front of my blouse and down my back, before pooling around my feet.
"OMG!" Somebody yelled. "The smell! Girl going tot smelling like the beast from the middle east!"
"Totally! If I was her, I would totally not come back to school tomorrow. Or the day after that!"
I felt a blush forming upon my cheeks as I peered around and noticed all my teammates and classmate laughing and pointing at me. The prankster it seems had become the one getting the prank.
"Okay guys we have one more bucket. Ginger, take a deep breath gurl. Because this one is pretty gross." Our instructor called out. I took a deep and closed my eyes as I felt something heavy roll down my head. A thick, cheesy smelling liquid coated my hair and covered my shoulders and rolled down my leg and joined the other mess pooling around my bare feet. I took a deep breath and some of the mess got into my mouth. My face twisted into a frown as all the savory flavors started to melt in my mouth.
"Yuck!" I remember shouting. Before the crowds started to gather around. All laughing and pointing and joking and pinching there noses. And that's the end of our story.